Scripture and Worship Discussion

Sunday, March 19 2023

Scripture:1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.


  1. Do you have a favorite old song? What is it? What memory does it bring up for you?
  2. Paul's rememberance of Jesus's words at the Last Supper are couched in a statement, "For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you...." Paul wants the people or the Corinthian church to get over their divisions and over the things which aren't essential to the faith and focus on what he taught them about Christ. What are the essentials the Church needs to focus on right now as it is about its work in the world?
  3. Jesus tells his friends that when they eat the bread and drink from the cup of communion they are to remember him. This remembrance isn't a passive reflection but an action reminding them that God is with them on the journey. God is always with us on the journey, just as God was on the faith journey of the people of Israel. Where have you seen God active in your personal faith journey? Where have you seen God active in the history of our society? How do you experience God as being active today?
  4. After Paul shared the words from the Last Supper he concludes with a directive, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." What does it mean to you to "proclaim the Lord's death?" Mores specifically, what does the death of Jesus mean for you; for the world?
  5. Brad concludes by saying the Church is poised on a knife's edge right now. On one side the Church can be a "Sentimental Journey" where we cling to a past that is rapidly fading away, or on the other side the Church can accept the current cultural push that it is irrelevant and ineffective (like a turtle on a fence post). Brad says a sacramental perspective is the way forward; that all of us accept the responsibility to proclaim/preach Christ's teachings and life into the world. How do you feel about this; are you ready to accept this responsibility?  

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Scripture: Matthew 6:1, 5-13 (MSG)

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for fifteen minutes of fame! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

"Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
     as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
     Yes. Yes. Yes."


  1. How vibrant is your prayer life? How often do you prayer? What causes you to prayer?
  2. Brad describes "prayerishness" as focusing on behaviors that formalize the relationship with God such as only praying in worship when a clergy leads, or being showy in prayer. This puts distance between us and the Divine. In the scripture, Jesus tells his followers to focus on connecting with God and to be relational with the God Jesus called, "Dad." How does being less formal and more relational sound to you?
  3. Referring to the book, (and soon to be movie) "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" Brad makes the case that sometimes our prayer lives are very vibrant and sometimes fallow - just like any relationship. This isn't because God isn't there listening, but because of where we are in our lives. Do you struggle with fallow times in your prayer life? What do you do to work through them?
  4. Brad says the important thing is to keep communicating; keep talking. Like any relationship continued communication is essential to keeping it healthy. Some people feel a response, others hear a response and some of us struggle to get any sense of a response at all, but that's not what is important. What matters is that we stay in communication. What are your thoughts on this? What steps are you ready to take to deepen your communication with God?

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


  1. Do you have a favorite scripture verse? If so what is it?
  2. Brad says that we have developed a "scripture-ish" perspective on the Bible in our culture - that is, we focus on things like being a "literalist" and "biblical inerrancy" and we "weaponize" scripture using it to support our own opinions or to win arguments. This has turned many people off to scripture. Have you ever experienced these things or do you know people who have experienced this?
  3. Both church history and the scriptures themselves, according to Brad, stand in opposition to this approach to the Bible. John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement) and Martin Luther (founder of the Protestant Reformation) encouraged Christ-followers seek the heart of what scripture teaches and to not let inconsistencies in the scriptures undermine faith. Jesus reinterprets the meaning of " your neighbor as yourself" from its original meaning in the Old Testament and even says he disagrees with part of what the Old Testament says ("You have heard it said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' but I say unto you..."). Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that, he "only understands in part." What do you think about looking at scripture as being more ambiguous? Do you find this unnerving, or do you appreciate this more nuanced view of scripture? Why?
  4. Here's Brad's definition of the Bible: "The Bible is a collection of stories, songs, poems and teachings created by people across a vast period of time to share their experiences of, and to explain their understanding of the Divine." In other words, it is an expression of the Divine-human encounter. Does looking at the scriptures this way make them feel more accessible and less threatening? Does this make you more or less interested in reading the Bible?

Extra Credit:

One of the things that keeps people from reading the Bible is that the language can feel archaic. Consider picking up a modern translation such as Eugene Peterson's translation called The Message. You can read it (and other translations) for free at this website:


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Scripture: Luke 14:25-33 (NLT)

A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.


  1. The series for Lent is "...ish" - a look at what our values as Christ-followers really are as opposed to what we want them to be. This first Sunday is discipleship vs. being "disciplish." What, if anything, draws you to being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you recall a time when you chose to be a Christ-follower?
  2. Brad says one distinction between being a disciple versus being "disciplish" is that of intentional decision vs. habit. He points out that the suspension of in-person worship during the pandemic highlighted for many that church was a habit not an intentional commitment. Looking at the two stories in the second and third paragraph of the scripture, Brad suggests that Jesus is teaching people to seriously consider if they are ready to be disciples so they won't go halfway (i.e. build a half-finished building). As you think about deepening you discipleship what additional commitment(s) are you ready to make?
  3. The second point in the message is to prioritize discipleship vs. making it just an add-on to our lives. Brad says that we live in a culture that draws us to adding on things in our lives which causes us to lose sight of priorities. Discipleship is intended to be our priority for Christ-followers. Is it a priority for you? What step or steps are you willing to take to make it more of a priority?
  4. Brad's final point is that being a disciple is a life-long journey and not a process that ever has a conclusion. Has being a disciple shaped and changed you over your life? If so, in what ways? Are you ready to deepen your discipleship? What step would you like to take to do this?    

Sunday, February 19, 2023


2 Peter: 1: 1-11 (The Message)

1 1-2 I, Simon Peter, am a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. I write this to you whose experience with God is as life-changing as ours, all due to our God’s straight dealing and the intervention of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.

3-4 Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.

5-9 So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

10-11 So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, God’s choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions

  1. Where do you buy your towels (or home goods)? Has this changed in recent years? If it has or has not changed, please talk about your “whys” with your group or partner. 

  2. Of the seven traits that Peter says we are to strive for (2 Peter 1:5-9), which one are you most drawn to and why? Which one is the most challenging for you and why? 

  3. Sometimes in our faith lives some things that worked for us no longer work for us. As you assess the landscape of your faith life, what has worked for you inthe past? Where do things stand for you now? What do you need to make sure that you keep growing in your faith (2nd Peter: “With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet.)” 

  4. Here is the “Bee the Bee” Video by Marklin Candle Company tha you can watch again. What stood out the most to you? What do you glean from it about God’s desire for us to keep growing as a result of watcing it? 

  5. Tania makes a couple of parallels to the challenges that honey bees face to some of the same challenges that churches and Christians face today (changignig landscape, disease, and other factors). Which ones stood out to you? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?

  6. In the Marklin video, the owner quotes St. John Chrysostom (347-404), who said,  “The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others.” What does this mean to you? 

If you are interested in finding out more about what you can do to protect the honey bee population, here is a great article. If you have the space to plant a honey bee friend tree in your environment, the Holland Area Beekeepers Association is taking orders for saplings until March 10 and the link is here.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Scriptures: Exodus 3:1-8a

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey..."


  1. Pastor Brad opens the message sharing that the Covid-19 emergency is over, and that we are now in the new normal. What are your thoughts about the "new normal?" Does it leave you hurt or angry? What about it do you find upsetting or do you find it upsetting? Share why you are feeling the way you do?
  2. In the story of the burning bush Moses says, "I will turn aside to see this great sight...."  In the message, Brad shares Moses' backstory (he was an exile from and exiled, marginalized people). Brad also highlights that the burning bush isn't in Egypt among the wealthy or in a temple. The burning bush (God's presence) is found by a marginalized person in the wilderness. In light of this, where are some of the places we ought to be looking for the presence of God today? (Recall Brad's story about his friend who just returned from Africa and who experience passionate spirit-filled worship among the people there.)
  3. When God speaks, Moses learns he is in a holy place ("take off your sandals"). Brad points out that what makes the placed holy is that God is there. Where are the places you encounter God; where are your holy places?
  4. Brad highlights what Moses doesn't say. Moses doesn't ask God to erase his personal losses and make him a prince of Egypt again. The message here is that there's no going back. Our God is a God of the future. Do you wish we could go back to the pre-pandemic world? How are you grieving what has been lost so you can begin to move into the future?
  5. God tells Moses that the cry of the people in Egypt has been heard by the God of their forebears (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). The message here is that the world may change but God is still here wanting to lead people forward into the reign of Christ in new ways. Do you believe this right now? Why or why not? Are you willing to pray with others for God's leadership and presence in this time to move the Church forward for God's purposes?  

Sunday January 29, 2023

Scripture: Joshua 1:1-4; 9 (ESV)

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, "Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."


In this message Brad references two pieces of literature both of which can be read by clicking of their titles: 


  1. Brad spends time in this message reflecting on the moment he began to think about his own mortality and death. He makes the case that internalizing the reality of one's own death is something each of us must do. Do you think we do this well in our society? Why or why not?
  2. Brad describes a "cult of death" or a "culture of death" as being a society built around what happens in the afterlife. An example of this is the building of the pyramids in Egypt. With our society's focus on "staying young forever," and not acknowledging openly the reality of death, have we created our own culture of death? In other words, by not dealing with death openly, does it end up consuming an inordinatant amount of our energy and resources any way?   
  3. In the scripture Moses has died and God fairly quickly encourages Joshua (and by extension the people of Israel) to move back into life (crossing over to the Promised Land). Brad suggests this reminds us that ours is a faith of the living and not of dead (see Luke 9:59-60). How do you feel about this? 
  4. Brad also points out that the promise given to Joshua, in Joshua 1:3-4 is about life and our legacy. He says our legacy is about what we do in the here and now and not just what we leave when we die. What are your thoughts on this?  
  5. Brad believe that we cannot know what comes next; we can only have faith. Therefore we need to do as God suggested to Joshua: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Is this a satisfactory answer for you, or do you need a promise of something more when you think about death? if so, what?

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Scripture: Isaiah 43:1-2, 18-19 (NIV)

But now, this is what the Lord says—

he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.


  1. LuAnne opens by talking about her struggle with control as it pertains to her family. Is there an area of your life where you struggle with control?

  2. LuAnne quotes Brennan Manning who writes in The Ragamuffin Gospel, "The difference between faith as ‘belief in something that may or may not exist’ and faith as ‘trusting in God’ is enormous. The first is a matter of the head, the second a matter of the heart. The first can leave us unchanged; the second intrinsically brings change.” What do you think about this? Is Manning right? And if so, what, if anything, should we do about it?

  3. Isaiah’s message of hope from God allowed God’s exiled people to remember that they were redeemed, called, and God’s very own, which was needed so that they could walk through the fire and the deep water, and trust God’s new thing enough to forget even a glorious past. Where in your life right now do you see "fire and deep water?" Where in your life do you see something that might be a "new thing" from God?

  4. LuAnne names contemplative, or centering prayer as a way of bringing ourselves to God that allows us to let go of control and to experience and hear from God, to allow God to show us the new things God is doing. Have you ever tried something like this before? What is your prayer experience like thus far? Here is a resource for a simple way to practice centering prayer.

  5. John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer (modernized version) is a wonderful, challenging prayer to dedicate ourselves to cooperation with God. What part of this prayer is the most challenging to you? How might God’s Spirit be inviting you into that challenge? Here is the text of the prayer:

I am no longer my own but yours.

Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;

put me to doing,

put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you,

or laid aside for you,

exalted for you,

or brought low for you;

let me be full,

let me be empty,

let me have all things,

let me have nothing:

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

to your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

you are mine and I am yours. So be it.

And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.'

The Methodist Covenant Prayer

Sunday, January 15, 2022

Scripture: Luke 5:29-32 (NLT)

Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”


  1. The message opens with Brad telling a story when he was afraid for his life (confronting a bear in the wilderness). He points out that fear, in such a context, is a good thing since it can help preserve our lives. Have you ever been afraid for your life? Do you remember what you were feeling at the time?
  2. There are other kinds of fear - fear of what others might think of of us, fear of rejection, fear of failure - which Brad believes are not helpful, especially when it come to our faith. What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree or disagree, and why?   
  3. Brad explores two stories about Jesus. The first is from Luke 5:17-26 where Jesus heals a paralyzed man who has been lowered through a roof. The second is from Luke 5:27-32 and is about Jesus eating with the tax collectors. In both stories Jesus is judged by "religious authorities" who harshly condemn him and the people he is with. Brad suggests they do this out of fear because Jesus threatens the state quo and by extension their privilege. What are your thoughts on this; do you think the religious authorities were afraid? Are people afraid of the status quo being threatened today? Is this possibly at the root of much of our societal discord?
  4. Comparing Jesus to the religious authorities, Brad points out that he was fearless. Knowing that he, Jesus, could be judged for forgiving sins and for eating with "unclean" sinners he did it anyways, because it "aligned with his missional purpose." Do you think Christ-followers are called to be missional and fearless today? What would this look like?
  5. Brad concludes by referring to a poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. (Click on the title if you wish to read the poem in full.) The poem is about a man in love with a woman, but who is afraid of telling her that he loves her. The message of the poem is that if we allow our fears to rule us we will never achieve our dreams. This is true for our personal dreams and for our dreams for the Reign of Christ. What fear do you need to overcome to participate in serving the Reign of Christ?

Sunday, January 8, 2022

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12 (CEB)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him.He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21 (MSG)

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.


  1. This week's theme is about letting go of stuff. The message opens with a review of the story of the Magi who brings gifts to Jesus. For Brad, bringing material things such as gold, misses the point of the sacred moment. He said in the message: "When standing right in front of God’s miraculous presence, they reach for the stuff...  What does the incarnate God need with this stuff? It’s almost of if the Magi felt like they needed to do something, so they said, 'Here, take this.'” What are your thoughts on this? Do we use material things to fill empty places in our lives and relationships?
  2. In Matthew 6, Jesus addresses materialism when he says: " It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." How do we avoid making our "treasure" (our stuff) the thing we center our lives around?
  3. Brad identifies consumerism as the backbone of modern materialism and says it corrodes society in a variety of ways (wage disparity and environmental degradation, for example). Do you see the rate at which we consume material things in our society as problematic? Why or why not? The article, "Your Stuff Is Actually Worse Now" in Vox says more about this.